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Expanding Broadband - Individual Town Approach

Broadband deployment is a mature, capital-intensive, and highly competitive business and many Vermonters do not have access to reliable or high-speed service.  Several Vermont towns already have access to broadband service from multiple providers. Deployment in areas with existing service entails competition with sophisticated, national companies already in place.  Moreover, there is a reason that existing companies have avoided system buildout or upgrades in underserved areas: the business model is very challenging. 

Towns are authorized to issue a request for proposals (RFP) seeking an internet service provider to serve or to assist with serving unserved and underserved locations targeted by the issuing municipality. The terms of such a partnership shall specify that the owner or owners of the communications plant, as applicable, shall be responsible for debt service. All towns should consult with their attorney before finalizing and issuing an RFP.

Disclaimer:  The information below is provided by the Department of Public Service as a convenience to the public and is not in any way offered as legal advice. If you think you need legal advice, please contact an attorney to consult about your particular circumstances or case.  Links on this website are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the Department of Public Service of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation, organization or individual. The Department of Public Service bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites listed, or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site about questions regarding its content.

Where to Post a Request for Proposals

Below is a partial list of websites where a town or Communications Union District should post a Request for Proposals. In addition to the sites below, we encourage you to send the proposal to existing providers serving Vermont. 

Individual Companies: The Department of Public Service can connect you with providers that have expressed interest in similar projects. Please contact Robert Fish, Rural Broadband Technical Assistance Specialist for more information.

Evaluating Proposals

When evaluating proposals there are some issues to consider when choosing a provider to work with, including:

  • Who owns or will own the infrastructure? 
  • What experience does the provider have in operating a network?
  • What is the provider's required return on profit?
  • What is the final cost of service to consumers?
  • Will the cost to consumers impact the “take rate?” That is, will consumers feel that the monthly cost is the best deal they can get?
  • How financially secure is the company making the proposal?
  • Who owns or will own the Right-of-Way (ROW) for the infrastructure?
  • Review references from other towns and lenders as well as media coverage of other projects the provider was involved with
  • If it’s too good (or too low a bid) to be true, it probably is!
Project Costs to Consider

One major project cost involves "make ready" work, which has to do with modifying or replacing utility poles or lines of equipment on utility poles to accommodate additional facilities (such as communications cables) on the poles. Make ready  includes the following initial and ongoing costs. Actual project costs will be dependent on, among other things, the road miles involved, how many poles must be (re)placed, and weather-related and other delays.

Initial Costs:

  • Route strand mapping
  • ​Pole applications
  • Pole make ready
  • Administration during the process (approximately three days/week) 

Ongoing expenses:

  • $16.00/pole
  • Liability insurance